UNPO Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination draws attention to severe human rights violations faced by indigenous peoples in Vietnam and Laos.
On the occasion of the 80th Session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UNPO has submitted two reports with highlight the state persecution faced by indigenous and minority populations in Vietnam and Laos. Both Vietnam and Laos, as signatories to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, are legally bound to adopt all necessary measures for eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms, and to prevent racist doctrines and practices to promote the building of an international community free of all segregation and discrimination. However, Alternative Reports submitted by UNPO and groups representing the Degar Montagnard, Khmer Krom, and Hmong communities describe systematic infringements on these principles towards indigenous people and minority populations in Vietnam and Laos.
UNPO’s reports detail several main issues that disproportionately affect these communities, including the lack of religious freedom and security of person, and disregard for principles of non-refoulement. In Vietnam, the Degar Montagnards, Khmer Krom and Hmong each constitute a religious minority that has experienced state oppression justified by convoluted legislation. Vietnam requires religions to be approved and registered by the state lest they be labeled illegal. The Khmer Krom experience intrusions into their temples and institutions by state police and laws forbidding texts in their native Khmer language. Degar Montagnard communities have faced police violence for worshipping in ‘unregistered church houses’ and refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. Vietnamese authorities have also organized military campaigns to eradicate Protestantism among the Hmong.
According to the report, Vietnam and Laos are especially egregious violators of the principles of non-refoulement and non-expulsion of refugees and asylum seekers. Both the Vietnamese and Laotian governments have military collaboration agreements with each other and bilaterally with neighboring countries such as Thailand and Cambodia to forcefully repatriate Hmong, Degar Montagnards and Khmer Krom who flee their respective countries in search of sanctuary from repressive policies against them. Civil society organizations and international institutions such as the United Nations have expressed their grave concerns about the status of individuals detained and forced to return to a country where they can expect violent retaliation.
UNPO’s reports each propose a series of recommendations to be posited to the Vietnamese and Laotian delegations at the 80th Session of the CERD. Below is a selection of recommendations from both reports:
Formally recognize the Degar Montagnards and the Khmer Krom as indigenous peoples of Vietnam, and respect the distinct rights afforded to them by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Formally recognize the Hmong as an indigenous people of Laos and respect the distinct rights afforded to them by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Formally endorse and ratify the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal peoples
End the forceful repatriation of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities seeking refuge
Amend domestic law provisions that criminalize certain religious activities on the basis of imprecisely-defined crimes of national security.
Each of the full reports can be downloaded from this page.